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Reading Fightin Phils 2014 Season In Review

Reading Fightin Phils - finished 66-76 (last in the Eastern Division)

Offense

Despite finishing 22 games out of first place, the Fightin Phils manage to end the season on a 7 game winning streak. The offense contributed in ways, both good and bad. Top prospects Tommy Joseph and Kelly Dugan spent much of the time on the DL. Joseph came into the season with serious concussion issues, but instead missed almost the entire season with a wrist injury which then required season ending surgery in July. Kelly Dugan has missed numerous time over his career, but all seemingly from different ailments. This year saw him miss time this season (parts of April, May and June) after getting hit on the wrist and suffering an oblique injury. On the positive side? Kelly saw a nice boost to his average and OBP this season, while seeing only his power drop off. I'd speculate that the oblique had something to do with the drop off. Dugan performed well enough to grab a full-time gig at AAA next season and could be an immediate call up should an injury to Brown or Byrd occur.

Two guys who did manage to play close to full seasons with Reading had very different outcomes. Aaron Altherr came off a "breakout" 2013 in which he hit 12 HR and slashed .275/.337/.455 all the while playing good CF defense. Altherr started 2014 late because of a broken wrist the season before. Altherr provided the power (14 HR) and speed (12 SB), but saw a huge dip in his plate discipline batting a lowly .236. Altherr will need cut the strikeouts in AAA and continue to work it out at the plate. He got the surprisingly call to the Phillies this past season and will likely be a top option again next season. Cam Perkins lit the Eastern League on fire and turned so many heads that I thought whiplash was contagious. In nearly 200 at bats he slashed .342/.408/.495. There wasn't significant power or gap potential, but that was hard to ignore for Phillies brass who made the easy decision to promote him.

Lastly, the Phillies saw solid season contributions from Carlos Alonso (AAA candidate), Cesar Hernandez and minor league home run hitting pro, Jake Fox. 2014 marked the end of former top draft pick Anthony Hewitt. Zach Collier couldn't do much even when in the lineup and mid-season promotions of Peter Lavin and KC Serna proved to be great moves.

Pitching

So many stories, so little time. Jesse Biddle, the defacto #1 pitching prospect entering the 2014 season, had unbelievably high expectations given his position in the organization and where he was drafted. As a perceived #2-3 ceiling guy, Biddle showed flashes of that potential. He did so last year even with battling plantar fasciitis and whooping cough. This year threw a new wrench in adding a now much publicized battle with depression, which could have stemmed from a concussion stained after being hit in the head by an abnormally large piece of hail (you can't even make this up). The Phillies shut him down and sent him to Florida to have a talk with Roy Halladay. He came back with a fresh attitude and claimed he was feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed with baseball. We can only hope an offseason can clear his head, begin to harness better control and at least reach his floor (back-end rotation starter).

Severino Gonzalez and Hoby Milner had a friendly wager beginning the season, "Who can allow the most HR in 2014?". It was neck-and-neck down to the finishline, but Hoby Milner came out on top and finished with 25. Severino had to settle for second with 23. I joke about this because I'm desperate for laughs, but this was a big issue. Milner isn't projected to be anything more than a 6th starter/long-reliever, but Severino showed enough command last season to at least give us the impression that maybe he could be a decent 4-5 starter. Instead he became exposed at the AA level where everyone was able to hit him.

2014 saw Perci Garner literally walk his way from the rotation to the bullpen (62 walks in 81.2 IP) and Ken Giles begin his magical tour to the majors. Colton Murray broke out in a big way and should catch some attention for a potential 2015 call-up if all goes well in the AFL and upcoming season. He also needs to be added to the 40 man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 draft.

Last, but not least, I'll need to mention Aaron Nola finishing the season with the club and the release of a baby. 2014 1st rounder Nola made 5 great starts for Reading to finish out his long season. All of my spidey-senses tell me that Nola will be given the opportunity to win a starting job in Spring Training, but will at least have to wait until June to be given the job. Former "Baby Ace" Brody Colvin was released from the organization after 3 appearances in Reading and 4 in Clearwater this season. This is the same guy who most thought could make a decent impact on the Phillies in the future at least 3 years ago. Prospects, aren't they fun?

Overall

Another Reading season and...there simply wasn't a lot to be excited about. Guys of note that will likely be promoted include Dugan, Biddle, Murray, Altherr and Dugan. You can look forward to JP Crawford and Roman Quinn next season with the Fightin's and to a much lesser extent, Brian Pointer and Mark Leiter.

**As I rather not bore you with reciting this past year's stats, feel free to check out how everyone did this season via this LINK.